BY ZACHARY CORMIER
The Lacombe Generals are riding high after completing a two-game sweep of the Rosetown Red Wings during the first two games of the Chinook Hockey League season last weekend.
“I thought our energy level and our compete level were where they needed to be, so I thought we did a good job of executing and making plays when we needed to,” said Generals Head Coach Curtis Austring of his team’s performance over the weekend, which saw them fly out of the gates with a 5-2 victory over the Red Wings on Saturday night before squeaking by with a 5-4 overtime win the following day.
“Ultimately just competing on the defensive side of the puck. They’ve got some good players with some talent over there and they kind of made a couple of pushes to tip the scales. But we stared them down. In the first game particularly, we got that fourth goal and I think that really took the wind out of their sails,” Austring said.
That fourth goal came off of the stick of Trevor Cameron in the first minute of the third period. Veteran General Brett Robertson, who is no stranger to finding his way onto the score sheet, picked up the fifth, and clinching, marker later in the period.
“He’s competitive and a pretty smart hockey player, so he made a couple of good plays,” Austring said of Robertson, whose two goals on Friday helped propel the Generals to their first win of the season.
The second game was an even tighter affair, with the Red Wings outshooting the Gens 48-42 through regulation and overtime.
Luckily, Lacombe was up to the challenge.
Goaltender Kraymer Barnstable turned aside 44 shots in the high scoring affair to give his team a chance to pull out the win.
“He was really solid all weekend. Some of the goals that they did get were rebound goals where we just didn’t pick up the coverage on the way back in, so there’s nothing that you can really do there as a goalie,” Austring said of Barnstable, who over the course of the weekend posted a .928 save percentage.
But it was newcomer Doug Jessey who turned out to be the hero for the Gens in the Sunday afternoon tilt in Rosetown.
The former Canisius College blue liner had perhaps the oddest goal of the weekend when a puck which he had dumped in took a freak bounce off of one of the stanchions in the Red Wings’ zone, catching Rosetown goalie Tagan Kozun off guard and bouncing into the net.
“I think everyone was surprised on that one,” Austring laughed.
But Jessey’s second goal was anything but a fluke, as with just 12 seconds left in the overtime period he took a pass from fellow newcomer Zach Franko in the slot and snapped it past Kozun’s low glove side for the game winner.
“He knew the time and where we were as far as the countdown was on, so he knew that we had good puck control so he just jumped into the slot and was waiting there.”
It was a good way for Lacombe’s newest hockey team to get the ball rolling on their long 10-game road swing to start the year.
“I thought everyone played well. We’re still finding some chemistry and all of that sort of stuff. And I think we’re also trying to get guys into game mode. The pre-season was great but we’ve still got some players who are still finding their timing, still working on getting their feel back. That just comes with time,” Austring said, adding that he doesn’t look at the long road trip as a disadvantage.
“We’re still on the road, so that’s good for us as far as getting your group together and on the bus and all of that sort of stuff.”
The Generals are back in action this Sunday when they visit the Ft. Saskatchewan Chiefs at the Jubilee Recreation Centre. Puck drop on that one is at 3 p.m.